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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:In 1982, the company predecessor to Entergy Gulf States bought what are called “reclosers,” which were made by Cooper Power Systems Inc. A recloser is a switching device that restores a current along an electrical line when that current has been interrupted. The recloser monitors the current running through a line and when that current gets to a preset maximum due to some sort of fault in the line, the recloser opens, which deenergizes the line, typically stays open for about two seconds, then recloses if the fault disappears. Installation of the reclosers allows electric power companies to restore electric power quickly by temporary interrupting a line’s electric current in response to events that might otherwise halt distribution of the current to consumers. Cooper supplied Entergy’s predecessor with information on presetting the maximum current amount and recommended setting that amount at 280 amperes of current, while 140 amperes of continuous current would run through the lines. In August 2001, John Brocken, Thomas Ferguson and Clayton Demouchette were part of a crew working for North Houston Pole Line Corp., whom Entergy hired to transfer power lines from old poles to new ones. As part of the transfer process, Ferguson asked that the recloser be set to its “one-shot” mode, meaning that if the current in the line reached 280 amperes, the recloser would open, interrupting the flow of current, and then stay open until someone manually closed it again. James Murphy, an Entergy employee, set the recloser as requested. Ignoring NHPLC’s own safety manuals, Brocken, Ferguson and Demouchette decided to ground the bucket truck through a wire from the truck to a copper wire on the new pole. A fault in the power line occurred during the transfer of the line, sending the electricity through the wire, through the truck’s tires and into the ground. Demouchette was shocked when he touched the energized bucket truck. When Brocken and Ferguson realized what was going on, they jumped out of the bucket, which had been lowered to the height of the truck’s cab. Brocken fractured his ankle in the fall. Among the several suits that followed, Brocken sued Cooper, alleging a marketing defect in the recloser sold to Entergy’s predecessor. Brocken also sued Entergy for negligence and products liability. Cooper moved for summary judgment on the ground that it had no duty to warn Brocken that its recloser will not trip in response to any surge in current, information Brocken would be aware of in his line of work. Entergy argued in its motion for summary judgment that Brocken had not proved that Entergy had actual knowledge. The trial court granted both defendants’ motions without explaining its reasons. HOLDING:Affirmed. Characterizing Cooper as a manufacturer of component parts a part that was be purchased by Entergy and then installed within its electrical distribution system the court notes that if that manufacturer does not participate in the installation of the part, it has no duty for defects in the final product if the component itself is not defective. The court also notes that it was Entergy, not Cooper, who specified that the recloser be put on the line and that, by all accounts, the recloser operated as it was designed to on the day of the injury. Nonetheless, the court also notes that a component can be defective by the way it is marketed to its users. The duty to warn is limited, though, in that it does not require a manufacturer to warn against or explain every characteristic of the component. Furthermore, if Entergy used Cooper’s product in a way that Cooper did not intend for the product to be used, Cooper would not have a duty to warn, either. Here, the evidence showed that when the recloser was installed Entergy’s employees appreciated the obvious risk that a recloser set to open at 280 amperes would not open at faults currents of less than 280. Entergy set the minimum current levels in accordance with Cooper’s recommendation. Brocken did not show that Cooper had a duty to warn Entergy of the dangers of using a recloser for the special purpose it was used on the day of Brocken’s accident. Summary judgment for Cooper was therefore appropriate. As to summary judgment for Entergy, the court reviews and rejects the evidence Brocken submitted to show that Entergy knew that workers relied on the “one-shot” mode to provide a safe working environment when working near a fault. For instance, deposition testimony from Ferguson and Demouchette shows, at most, that they were unaware that the recloser required sufficient fault current to reach the recloser’s tripping threshold. It did not demonstrate that Entergy was actually aware of their misapprehension. After confirming that summary judgment for Entergy was appropriate, the court then rejects Brocken’s wife’s loss-of-consortium claim, as it derived from the Brocken’s injury, for which he could not establish liability. OPINION:Horton, J.; Gaultney, Kreger and Horton, J.J.

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